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Aust. Funds Avian Influenza Drugs to Indonesia

Australia Funds Avian Influenza Drugs to Fight Indonesian Outbreak

The Australian Government through AusAID will fund 10,000 doses of the anti-viral medication Tamiflu to combat the recent outbreak of Avian Influenza in Indonesia, the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Bruce Billson confirmed today.

'This assistance for emergency supplies of the drug follows a request from the Indonesian Government and is part of our ongoing work to combat Avian Influenza in the Asia Pacific. The World Health Organisation (WHO) will source the anti-viral medication from drug suppliers to treat flu victims and those who have been in close contact with them, including medical personnel,' Mr Billson said.

'The Australian Government is working vigorously to ensure we are at the leading edge of measures to avert the risk of an influenza pandemic. As well as $133 million allocated for prevention and preparedness in Australia, we have provided over $18 million since 2003 to tackle Avian Influenza and SARS in our region.

'And since the Prime Minister announced a $5 million initiative to combat Avian Influenza at the ASEAN Leaders Meeting in November 2004, Australia has taken an increasingly active leadership role in responding to this threat in our region.

'Our focus now is on getting the broader international community together to address this issue. One of our imperatives is to ensure that effectively addressing Avian Influenza around the Asia Pacific region is a strong focus of the forthcoming APEC meeting in South Korea.

'We are also keen to see Avian Influenza on the agenda at the East Asia Summit in December. We will continue to push for a region-wide approach with our Asia Pacific and other international partners.

'The Australian Government has already provided significant assistance to Indonesia to help combat the so-called bird flu, including the engagement of an Australian field epidemiologist.

This funding has been used to:

• Purchase and distribute anti-viral medicines to referral hospitals

• Reactivate the hospital and surveillance networks established during the SARS outbreak of 2003

• Train laboratory staff in the diagnosis of the Avian Influenza virus

• Provide equipment to laboratories and

• Develop manuals on Avian Influenza in Indonesian.

'The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Ageing, will continue to monitor Avian Influenza closely including any implications for overseas travel. DFAT's travel information can be found at: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/' Mr Billson said.

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